Opened on Jan. 7, the agency’s Relationship Center will fill a role BFR Executive Director Maryland Guthas said stems from a need seen in the Pregnancy & Mentoring Center.
“It grew out of the need we saw with our clients next door,” she said. “They came in for pregnancy-related services or the goods we offer next door. We do an intake form with them, and one of the intake forms has some questions about their childhood, etc., and, too, just working with them we saw they needed a whole lot more help than what we could do over there.
“After we uncovered emotional needs and dysfunction and generational cycles that were negative, we just saw the need for more.”
Located at 20 Douglas St. in Cartersville, the Relationship Center offers free one-on-one peer counseling and support groups along with parenting education and marriage and pre-marriage coaching.
“We try to think of the things that we can help with for our community where there’s no one else reaching out in a certain area,” Relationship Center Director Cindy Smith said. “... The whole reason it’s called relationships is, once a person is born and has life, it’s all about relationships, first with your parents, with friends, with yourself. Life is about relationships. You think of any problems you have it’s usually because of a relationship of some type. That’s why Maryland and I and our board and a group of people said, ‘You know, that’s what we need — a relationship center.’”
Smith said the center addresses a wide range of needs within the community.
“We all need refueling. We all run out of gas and we can come to a relationship center and say, ‘You know what? I just don’t know what to do with my teenage son.’ Or, ‘I’m really burned out with parenting period.’ Or, ‘My husband just left me.’ Or, ‘I’m taking care of my mother and I have a 3-year-old’ — the sandwiched person. Or, ‘We’re homeless; we just lost everything.’ ‘We just lost a baby.’ ‘We want a baby,’” she said.
While services are not professional, Guthas said the center’s free services are provided by trained counselors.
“Last year, Cindy trained 14 women extensively — over 80 hours of training —in how to counsel someone one-on-one. They’re our peer counselors — we call them advocate counselors — they walk alongside you in your time of need whatever that might be,” she said. “They sign a waiver that says, ‘This is not professional counseling.’ We make it very clear that they are trained but they are not professional counselors.”
Smith said Making Peace With Your Past, a 13-week course, is one of the most helpful sessions offered through the center.
“What’s so good is, it’s not just for people who want to deal with their past issues, but it’s also for people who want to work with people,” she said. “It’s just a great tool to understand why people act the way they do. It’s a win-win situation for anyone who takes it.”
The faith-based agency will open its doors to the public Thursday during its Relationship Center open house. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m. at Tabernacle Baptist Church, 112 E. Church St., Cartersville, followed by an inspirational program ending at 8 p.m. To attend the open house, R.S.V.P. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678-894-6545.
Currently operating out of three counseling rooms in the building next door to the Pregnancy and Mentoring Center, the Relationship Center has helped almost 70 people since its opening less than three weeks ago, Smith said.
Those interested in signing up for counseling or support group services may call 678-894-6545 or find Bartow Family Resources on Facebook. Guthas said each client will be paired with the counselor best-equipped to handle the client’s situation and needs.
Bartow Family Resources is open Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.bartowbabies.org, call 770-382-7224 or email email@example.com.